So, by now everyone is at least aware of the COVID-19 situation since it is a worldwide phenomenon, and one that now includes all 50 states in the United States of America. Hopefully, no one is denying that this is a very real situation flippantly on the news, social media, or otherwise.
For our part, we have been impacted in many ways that I’m sure a lot of people have been. Schools in our state were shut down for three weeks (this after our local school district had previously announced a two week closure), and we had some much more personal decisions to make that were later reinforced by the authorities as well.
Michael runs a small massage therapy business in our downtown, and last Sunday we made the painful decision that we needed to close for the time being. We didn’t want to. We wanted to help be a beacon of hope for our clients and for people looking to escape the situation in ways that would help them cope mentally and physically. However, we realized that if we were being honest the best thing for not only our clients, but also our community and society at large, the best action would be to close down. This decision was not made lightly, especially since it impacted not only our family, but also our therapists.
We have bills and obligations (rent, utilities, etc.) that continue whether or not the studio is open and bringing in money, but more importantly we have two therapists who work at the studio who are also affected by this decision monetarily.
We have two bright spots to highlight out of this situation. First, our therapists totally understand and get the situation. Though our closure is impacting them, and us, at home and on a daily basis, they recognize our higher responsibility is to our clients, our community, our society at large. Second, our clients have been outstandingly generous in light of the situation. We’ve had several who bought gift cards in lieu of their sessions we had to cancel this week and some who bought multiple packages, all to keep funds flowing into our small business while we cannot continue normal operations. For our part, we are making sure to pass on these generous contributions to our therapists since it’s intended to help us all, but more importantly, we are humbled by the loyalty, generosity, and sheer humanity of our regular clients.
We made the decision to close last Sunday, but just yesterday we got the official call from the local Board of Health that they were officially closing all like businesses (massage therapy, hair stylists, nail salons) effective Friday. We were glad we were ahead of the curve since there was so much to do logistically, but also just happy to have been validated in the decision we’d already made for what we perceived to be the greater good.
I plan on writing more (as I’m sure many will) about the situation as it continues to unfold, but in the meanwhile, let me urge you to follow the guidelines for social distancing, whether professional or personal. Let me also urge you to support your local businesses. Sure, there are potential federal assistance programs in your country from additional unemployment benefits to direct payments to all taxpayers, but the only thing small businesses and neighbors can count on is your humanity and generosity. Give what you can to other as they need it, and (while this is admittedly biased on my personal views on karma) you will get what you need when you need it as well.
Stay well and take care of everyone around you.